Opus Dei Fact Sheet

A brief summary of Opus Dei

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Mission & Characteristics: Saint Josemaría Escrivá founded Opus Dei in 1928 to help people live by the Gospel in their daily activities and make Christ present in every endeavor. Opus Dei focuses on work and daily life as an occasion for spiritual growth and an opportunity to contribute to a better world. Opus Dei also emphasizes divine filiation, unity of life, prayer and sacrifice, charity, apostolate, and fidelity to the Pope.

Activities: The chief activity of Opus Dei members is personal effort to grow in holiness, carry out apostolate, and improve society. In support of these efforts, Opus Dei provides spiritual direction, prayer and study meetings, retreats, classes, and workshops. These activities take place in an Opus Dei center, or in a church, office or private home. Members also sometimes join with non-members to organize educational, charitable, and cultural projects, which may include spiritual formation carried out by Opus Dei. 

Place in the Church: Opus Dei is a personal prelature, which is a part of the hierarchical structure of the Church established by the Holy See. Personal prelatures exist to carry out specific missions in the Church, so their membership is determined not by geography, as in the case of a diocese, but by personal incorporation into the prelature. The faithful of a prelature continue to belong to their local dioceses, while receiving spiritual attention from the prelature and actively participating in its mission. The Opus Dei Prelature is governed world-wide by a Prelate in Rome, Bishop Javier Echevarría.

Membership: Anyone, including non-Catholics, may attend spiritual activities or participate in service initiatives. Catholics who have been involved in Opus Dei activities may become members if they have a vocation to a lifelong commitment to Opus Dei. As of 2013 (Source: The Vatican's Annuario Pontificio), Opus Dei had 90,000 members, of whom 2,051 were priests. Most members are married; some members commit themselves to celibacy, while remaining as laypersons. Opus Dei also has Cooperators, who are not members but contribute with their work, alms or prayers.

Founder: Saint Josemaría Escrivá was born in Spain in 1902. He founded Opus Dei in 1928, and died on June 26, 1975. People all over the world have devotion to Saint Josemaría, and his message has helped millions grow closer to God.  Saint John Paul II canonized him on October 6, 2002, calling him “the saint of the ordinary” and describing his teachings as “timely and urgent today.” Pope Francis has described Saint Josemaría as "a precursor of Vatican II in stressing the universal call to holiness."